How is the Parts Support on older Brother Mills (early to mid 2000's)
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    Default How is the Parts Support on older Brother Mills (early to mid 2000's)

    I see there is a former cat production facility closing up not all that far from me. They have close to 30 Brother Drill Tap machines that they will be getting rid of.

    Are parts/wear items like ballscrews, thrust bearings, and spindle cartridges available and reasonably priced? (I'm used to Fadals, where you can find any part you need on the interweb)

    If they are going cheap I may pick one up, depending upon parts availability.

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    Someone will know better than me about when they were updated, but older Brothers only used conversational programming and could not run a G code program.

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    If this facility was in MI and the one I'm thinking about, those brother machines are A controls which are gcode. Those machines were all well maintained.

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    S-2A or newer will be fine for support for a bit longer. I would pass on any 3 digit machines. TC-22B or TC-32 are okay but a bit more expensive to fix because of spindle types.


    Andy

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    Quote Originally Posted by sakis View Post
    If this facility was in MI and the one I'm thinking about, those brother machines are A controls which are gcode. Those machines were all well maintained.
    Thats the place

    Quote Originally Posted by 2outof3 View Post
    S-2A or newer will be fine for support for a bit longer. I would pass on any 3 digit machines. TC-22B or TC-32 are okay but a bit more expensive to fix because of spindle types.


    Andy
    Good to know, it looks like they have mostly s2a machines.

    Are the pullstuds on these machines the same as on robodrills? Ideally I would like to be able to share tooling between the two.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigLebowski View Post

    Are the pullstuds on these machines the same as on robodrills? Ideally I would like to be able to share tooling between the two.
    Close enough. I have seen people unknowingly run robo pull studs in Brother machines for years with no real ill effects. For best results though, run the 60 degree Brother pull stud. The difference is Brother uses 60 degree under the head and robo is 45. The S2A is a very good machine with good parts and support still available. Pete Deal can tell you about that.

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    Yea I bought an S2A-O (-O version has the longer 27" X travel get that if you can). But mine was very neglected. As a result I've put lots of parts in it. I'm not complaining because I got it pretty cheap and now it's a pretty decent machine. All the parts I have have needed have been available and Yamazen had in stock. They don't give them away but the prices are pretty decent. For example, I decided to replace the spindle. Bearings sounded good but it had about .001 runout. I could have had it ground maybe but a whole new spindle was $2500. I never heard of a cnc mill you can put a new spindle in for that. And it took me about 2 hours to boot. That's the other real up side to these machines very easy to work on yourself.

    If i was buying another and could look it over before I bought, best if you can take the Y axis way cover off the front and look things over. It seems with mine they let chips build up and get up into the Y axis ball screw and linear bearings. You can also take your phone and reach under and take some photos if you can't take it off. Can also look in from the chip pan side with a flash light. The other thing I bought a Maritool 30 taper test probe tool and just keep it as my sort-of gold standard tool for checking the spindle runout. If you could buy one of those and put in to check things. If it an auction you probably can't do some of that but those are the areas I'd check.

    The big limitation is that these are really just 2.5 axis machines and memory is limited. Some of them you can upgrade the firmware and add drip feeding capability (I did this) but the parts I am making in that machine are 5 op parts and I can get all the program in the memory, just barely, so don't need to drip feed.

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    Can't talk to you about the mechanical hardware, but last year we bought a 1999 TC-31A and at the beginning of this year the drive to rotate the table went bad.
    I called the local (next state over for us) Yamazen, got a person right away and they helped me troubleshoot it over the phone.
    Brother uses the same model drive for the same on the X,Y and C (table) axes. FYI - according to the description it's also the same one on the S2A machines, it was $1600 and they had it on the shelf. All told, our experience with a breakdown and replacement parts etc.. was about as smooth as it could get really.

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    oops! wait a second. It was two years ago we bought it, and it was beginning of last year this happened. Lost a year there somehow lol.

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    Yea i had a Y axis servo drive go out last year too. Probably the same one. Mine was $1600 too. This was the one part they didn't have in stock at Yamazen and drop shipped it from Japan still got me going pretty quickly.

    The servo drive system is all Sanyo. In replacing my Y axis drive I disected the old one. I found it interesting that most of the large ic's in it were made by Sanyo. Just a theory but I suspect this is why they can still supply these devices that are 20+ years old since they pretty much control the whole design.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Deal View Post
    Yea I bought an S2A-O (-O version has the longer 27" X travel get that if you can). But mine was very neglected. As a result I've put lots of parts in it. I'm not complaining because I got it pretty cheap and now it's a pretty decent machine. All the parts I have have needed have been available and Yamazen had in stock. They don't give them away but the prices are pretty decent. For example, I decided to replace the spindle. Bearings sounded good but it had about .001 runout. I could have had it ground maybe but a whole new spindle was $2500. I never heard of a cnc mill you can put a new spindle in for that. And it took me about 2 hours to boot. That's the other real up side to these machines very easy to work on yourself.

    If i was buying another and could look it over before I bought, best if you can take the Y axis way cover off the front and look things over. It seems with mine they let chips build up and get up into the Y axis ball screw and linear bearings. You can also take your phone and reach under and take some photos if you can't take it off. Can also look in from the chip pan side with a flash light. The other thing I bought a Maritool 30 taper test probe tool and just keep it as my sort-of gold standard tool for checking the spindle runout. If you could buy one of those and put in to check things. If it an auction you probably can't do some of that but those are the areas I'd check.

    The big limitation is that these are really just 2.5 axis machines and memory is limited. Some of them you can upgrade the firmware and add drip feeding capability (I did this) but the parts I am making in that machine are 5 op parts and I can get all the program in the memory, just barely, so don't need to drip feed.
    Great info. My biggest concern was the spindle but that number is less expensive than Fadal or Robdrill cartridges. Regardless of how well they maintained these machines, I am going to assume they are rough after 15+ years of production running.

    Is there any good documentation available on the A00 control or its features? I found a pdf that says helical interpolation/thread milling was an available option, which would be nice to keep file sizes small. I would like to do a bit of reading up on it so I know what to look for.

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    I have helical milling on mine and do thread milling with it no problems. I do think it may have been an option though. With the firmware upgrade I did on mine I think I gained xz and yz arcs. I say "I think" because I couldn't find good docs other than the firmware upgrade notes. My machine does do them though because I have used it.

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    Only a few of these have the helical interpolation option. All small parts..

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    I bet you could add helical milling. Maybe for a fee? It’s got to just be a config code.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Deal View Post
    I bet you could add helical milling. Maybe for a fee? It’s got to just be a config code.
    Try to get one that is 2003 or newer, then it should already have the software updates. An easy way to tell if an earlier A00 control machine has had a software update is look for 'Tape Mode'
    (drip feed capabilty) in the first few User Parameter choices. Thread milling is a Soft Switch bit that is probably already turned on in most cases. I don't recall if the very earliest machines ('98 or '99) had thread milling capability option unless software was updated...

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    I imagine those machines will be in the need for close to full rebuild if they were worked that long on a set of the smae parts.

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    The worn ones do have more personality than the new ones.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2outof3 View Post
    I imagine those machines will be in the need for close to full rebuild if they were worked that long on a set of the smae parts.
    Agreed. But a good chance to replace key components and have an as-new machine!

    I like to "hot rod" my linear guide replacements, searching for more static and dynamic rigidity in the same-size package. Most new generation guides have phenomenal specs as compared to a couple decades ago!

    ToolCat Greg

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    I couldn't make it out to the inspection day for this auction and did not end up buying a machine, but somebody picked up a lot of 5 S2A's for 1500 bucks each.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheBigLebowski View Post
    I couldn't make it out to the inspection day for this auction and did not end up buying a machine, but somebody picked up a lot of 5 S2A's for 1500 bucks each.
    WOW. That was a find.


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